Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flynn N.A.S.A. Grant Recipient Ellen Smith Ahern - Blog #5

Tuesday, May 18 - "Our work-in-progress showing is this weekend (Sunday, May 23 at 7 pm in FlynnSpace)! We’ve stopped exploring new material at this point so we can really focus on the work we’ve built thus far. It’s a little scary to make that shift, to really commit to what we’ve created and to focus on shaping and honing it. On the other hand, focusing on structure and detail and the quality of movement and voice is so much a part of the creative process that it feels right to reign in the new material and commit to crafting the dancing and text that are there now."

"Having had a work-in-progress showing last month, the guys don’t seem too nervous about Sunday evening. They’ve already had one experience with a live audience, and they’re eager to show how the material has progressed, how it has deepened and evolved (we hope!). As nerve-racking as it is to show work sometimes, I do love this part of the process, too—it is so helpful to step back and take stock of everything we’ve built, to struggle to pin down exactly where the work is, where it might be going, and how we should approach it in this moment, for this showing. Knowing that the piece is not finished and that this showing is informal and designed to help guide the work in the future is comforting and empowering, but I still want to be able to present material that has been carefully considered, that the guys are comfortable with, that they feel they can fully embody."

"One moment in the piece that is relatively new and that we’re still working to define is an awkward “club” scene. The club/dance music blasts in and the guys are initially caught off guard, paralyzed by the change of atmosphere. Gradually they begin moving to the music, eyeing each other and taking cues from one another. They slowly become less inhibited and more enthusiastic and full-bodied with their dancing until they’re just going nuts and dancing with abandon. This progression is really interesting to me because it’s happening constantly in public. We (all of us, not just the men) take our time assessing a situation, watching those around us for movement cues, gradually figuring out what posture or movement we want to commit to, whether it’s in a club or standing on the street corner in conversation. It’s been really fun to try to capture that kind of awkward transition within set, choreographed material, and we’ve settled on a largely improvised structure to keep it as fresh and authentic as possible."

"It feels like the piece is, for now, a bit of journey through many different settings, emotions, and memories that this group of men have and/or still do experience, whether as individuals or as a pack. We’ve got a whole range of movement qualities, of narratives, and of tones—sometimes it’s really very funny and often that humor gets twisted into something bittersweet, lonely, or sad. As choreographer and the outside eye on the work, I feel like I’m both trying to ride this wild range wherever it seems to lead and to shape it, to direct it. It’s an interesting balance to strive for."

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